Summer spud report 2021-2022

'It has been a mixed bag of weather, this Spring and Summer'

It has been a mixed bag of weather this Spring and Summer, with a couple of rain events challenging growers in Horowhenua and Canterbury.

NZ agronomists and growers in our main growing regions had the following to say about the 2021-2022 potato season.

In Canterbury, Roger Blyth, Seed and Field agronomist
Plants were ‘soft’ in the run-up to Christmas, with big canopies establishing due to low winds. Roger described it as a dull Spring with low ultra-violet levels.

A huge deluge before Christmas meant some disruption for late plantings and some crop loss. The big rain affected the normal petiole range and this has meant unrestricted canopy growth. Tuber setting is not too bad but there is variability in size. There has been no stress during tuber setting.

Canterbury is lucky to have irrigation schemes which means that the otherwise dry weather has been managed with irrigation.

Rhizoctonia, which can be both seed and soil born, is present, probably due to cooler conditions so far.

Psyllid nymphs are visible but psyllid trap numbers are not off the scale. Psyllid pressure is building however.

Powdery Scab is not much of a problem at this point.

“The Agria crops look exceptional. Innovator still has another month to go and Burbank crops needs heat and light, being a North American variety, so it will be interesting to see their progress towards mid-late March.”

In Pukekohe, agronomist Daniel Sutton from Fruitfed
Early crops were hit by wind, but pre-Spring moisture was good. Then in late November-December the big dry has hit.

There are pockets of Potato Tuber Moth (PTM) and psyllid, numbers are variable but generally psyllid is lower and PTM a bit higher, above the 2021 average.

There’s not as much powdery scab but this is very much a paddock-by-paddock characteristic.

Early blight/alternaria is always a big pressure and with the dewy mornings, it is certainly a problem this season.

It is very dry in the Franklin and Matamata areas.

Current climatic conditions definitely increase the chances of PTM, but good harvests and getting most of the crop out of the ground in a timely manner, could mitigate those risks. The current challenge is getting enough crop out of the extremely hard, dry ground to satisfy markets.

In Manawatu, Mike Moleta, grower and PNZ board member
December’s heavy rain event in Horowhenua, clocked up the wettest December on record in this region. Mike personally lost 30% of his potato crop. He said that if not lost, crops were certainly affected adversely by the rain and surface flooding. The most frustrating aspect of the flooding was that the Horizon council drains were not clear of weeds, so despite having plenty of pumping capacity there was nowhere for it to go.

For more information:
Potatoes New Zealand
Tel.: 0800 399 674

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